Friday, February 5, 2010

The Kids Are Alright

I was not prepared to discover how closely the recent Everybody's Fine tracked its source, Stanno tutti bene (1990), starring Marcello Mastroianni. Being the source material, and being Italian, the expressionist and surrealist tendencies (which are highlighted by the poster art seen here) feel more natural. Italy is naturally a place of abundance, where images tumbling upon each other simply reflects the landscape. The America DeNiro's character traveled through was spare, ascetic, almost barren. Both characters have absurd dreams, but Mastroianni's are more at home in the Italian landscape.

Moreover, DeNiro, even at his most gentle is a coiled spring. He could strike, and if he did, you would get hurt. Mastroianni may have looked like a leading man, but he projected the poetry of loss from his lonely, injured eyes. When DeNiro looks like he should given his kids a knock on the head, Mastroianni looks like he's wondering how they got that knock on the head.

The downside of that is that we never feel that Mastroianni achieves peace and equilibrium. His children's lies are a hurt from which he does not recover. DeNiro is hurt as well, but he seems to understand how and why it happened, and that he shares responsibility. Both films have their virtues, and if you like one of them, the other will probably interest you. Their respective virtues and shortcomings balance out--they are roughly equal accomplishments.

The Italian film does have music by Morricone--an unfair advantage, that.

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